Europe    GERMAN CHURCH PLEDGES LOYALTY TO POPE ON ABORTION
The head of Germany's Catholic Church yesterday expressed his intention to obey an order from the Pope to stop giving pregnant women counselling documents they need if they want an abortion.
    Under German law, a woman wanting to terminate her pregnancy legally must first receive a certificate stating that she has been counseled by an advisory service. One-sixth of the 1500 such services in the country are run by the Catholic church.
    ``It looks at the moment as if it will not be possible to hand out the certificates as we know them at the moment,'' said Bishop Karl Lehmann, head of the German Bishops' Conference.
    Pope John Paul wrote to the church this week complaining that the certificates could still be used to get a legal abortion, despite a recent re-wording carried out at his insistence.
    ``The Pope has made clear his wish that church-run or related advisory services should no longer hand out certificates which may be used to get a legal abortion,'' according to the text of the letter, which was leaked to a German newspaper. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that life begins at conception and that abortion is therefore a sin. But liberal leaders in the German church feel it can have a role to play in counseling pregnant women.
   
    Reuters & Independent 11:45am 22/9/99

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